Day two at sea, and we’ve made steady progress up the east coast overnight on our way to the Three Kings. We passed the Poor Knights islands at dawn, and by 9am we were approaching the Cavalli Islands, which lie just off Matauri Bay in the Bay of Islands.

Cavalli Islands - here's where we're going to sneak in our first dive before we reach the Three Kings tomorrow at dawn
Cavalli Islands – here’s where we’re going to sneak in our first dive before we reach the Three Kings tomorrow at dawn

If calm seas were something to celebrate yesterday we’ve gone one better today. We’ve had calm seas and an orca sighting! And not just one or two orcas, but a large pod of at least 13 or 14 that came past the boat over a ten minute period.

Our first unexpected find: a pod of orca whales
Our first unexpected find: a pod of orca whales

New Zealand orca specialise in eating stingrays, and judging by the orca’s behaviour once they reached a shallow channel between the mainland and the closest island  – lots of tail slapping and breaching – they were in hot pursuit of some tasty rays.

Juding by the orca behaviour we think they were in hot pursuit of some tasty rays
Juding by the orca behaviour we think they were in hot pursuit of some tasty rays

We’ve now anchored at the Cavallis, and will be here until 6pm tonight.

Everyone is out on the back deck at the moment sorting out all the dive gear and scientific equipment, and in a couple of hours we’ll get into the water for a shake-down dive. It’s a good opportunity in calm water to get used to diving out of the inflatable boats, and run through safe diving procedures.  There will be a bit of work done on the dive of course – Wendy is on the hunt for seaweeds, and Kareen and Libby are interested in invertebrates so we’ll be collecting sample of those while we’re in the water.

I’ve just carried out an interview with Kareen and Wendy so you’ll hear from them soon and we’ve been writing up some answers for all the Freeman’s Bay students following our blog and sending in great questions. More soon.

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6 Responses to “Day two: orca sightings & a shake-down dive”

  1. Charlotte Thomas

    Hi Tom and the team. It looks like you are going to have a great time up there, I hope the weather stays nice for you to dive. Wow I didn’t know that you used cat food and light sticks to attract sea creatures, how cool! I might have to try that and see what I get. How warm is the water going to be there?
    I look forward to reading about how many new species you have found.
    Bye, Charlotte

  2. philippe zintzen

    Hello,I’m vincent’s father. I’m a little jealous about your nice weather cause we have so bad weather in Belgium ! And what can I write about the fantastic meeting with the orcas: GREAT !!! It’s not comparable with my little grey shrimps (not alive) in my sandwich …….Bon vent à tous and see you soon. Philippe

  3. Jonathan

    Thanks for the photos of the orcas – they are awesome! My auntie lives in Wellington & they had some orcas down there recently. I hope some come to Auckland real soon so I can see them in real life!

  4. Chander's class

    The orcas looked enormous and cool-Destin
    You guys are lucky with the calm seas and we hope it will stay calm on your whole expedition
    How big is the average orca?-Xavier
    Did you see any baby orcas?-Jasmine
    What sort of science equipment do you mean?-Jim
    Thanks for the lovely photos!

    • Melanie Cooper

      They didn’t see any baby orca but Destin you’re right about them being enormous – the big males are up to 7m long, probably longer than your classroom! Check out this link to find out the other name for an orca and why it doesn’t really fit You’ll find more great answers on the blog’s ‘Ask a scientist’ page

  5. Ayesha's class

    Hello again,

    We are enjoying reading your posts :)

    Were there any baby orca whales?
    How big are orcas?
    How was the dive? What was it like?
    What are you having for dinner? Did you catch any fish?

    Have a great day and we hope you found some good samples.


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